Swedbank to pull out of Russia and Ukraine

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Swedbank to pull out of Russia and Ukraine

Swedish bank Swedbank has announced plans to shutter operations in Russia and Ukraine as part of a strategy to focus on markets closer to home.


While Swedbank has avoided losses in Russia, the bank's operations in Ukraine have lost 11 billion kronor ($1.69 billion) since 2007.

"Looking back, this clearly hasn't been a good investment for Swedbank's shareholders," Swedbank's head of investor relations Johannes Rudbeck told the TT news agency on Monday.

The company expects to complete the sale of its Ukraine operations during the first half of 2013 while it also plans to wind down existing operations in Russia, where it has a lending portfolio of approximately 2.6 billion kronor.

"This is the final step in our strategy to concentrate Swedbank’s business activities to Sweden and the three Baltic countries. The executive management can now turn its full attention to our home markets," Swedank CEO Michael Wolf said in a statement.

The Ukraine operations are being sold via a share purchase agreement with Mykola Lagun, the majority owner of Delta Bank and will result in a 340 million kronor hit to Swedbank's first quarter earnings.

According to Rudbeck, Swedbank's fortunes in Ukraine have been "heading in the wrong direction".

"Our assessment is that it's been harder and harder every year we've done business in Ukraine," he told TT, adding that in Russia, Swedbank is only a bit player in the market.

"We are very small."

Swedbank announced in 2011 it was closing retail banking operations in Ukraine, part of a longer-term shift away from Russia and Ukraine, two countries for which the bank had high hopes prior to the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

"There was another strategy in place then and different management," Rudbeck explained.

TT/The Local/dl

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